The man with good looks, charm, and a great singing voice. He is the one and only Johny Horton, who had it all. Moreover, Horton is also known for his half-hour show “The Singing Fisherman”. Without a doubt, Horton was one of the best country and rockabilly singers in history. With the power of his voice and a charismatic face, Horton had apprehended people.
Born as John LaGale “Johnny” Horton, the youngest of five siblings yet the most successful of them all. Horton was a native of Cherokee County, Texas and born on April 30, 1925. On his younger days, Horton and his family often traveled to California as migrant fruit pickers.
After graduating from high school, in Gallatin, Texas, Horton attended Lon Morris Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas, with a basketball scholarship. At that time, he is actually very athletic and active in sports. In fact, twenty-six colleges offered him basketball scholarships.
Horton then went to Alaska for a better living. It was during this period that he started writing songs. When Horton returned to the south, he joined and won a talent competition in Henderson, Texas. As a result, he pursued a musical career.
Horton married Donna Cook but later on divorced. In 1953, he married Billie Jean Jones, the estranged wife of Hank Williams. Jones and Horton had two daughters.
Before changing a direction to country saga songs, Horton held a high esteem of both country and rockabilly like the other legends such as Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and Bob Luman. In addition, he cut some classic rockabilly tracks such as “Honky Tonk Man”, “One Woman Man”, “Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor”, “Wild One”, and many more. Because of his track “Hony-Tonk Man”, he was recognized by some producers and opened a better musical career. Additionally, the song peaked at No. 9 on the Hot Country Songs and at No. 14 on the Best Seller charts.
Due to his popularity, Horton recorded saga songs such as “The Battle of New Orleans”, “When it’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s 40 Below)”, “Sink the Bismarck”, and “North to Alaska”. These songs were all successful and topped the country music charts.
Horton’s Three No.1 Songs…
“North to Alaska”
One of the most successful singles of Horton. It had a movie of the same name, too. Written by Mike Phillips, the hit topped Billboard Country Singles chart. According to Western Writers of America, it was one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time.
“The Battle of New Orleans”
The song was the very first saga song Horton recorded. Written by Jimmy Driftwood, the song tells a story of a battle. The billboard ranked the track as a No.1 song in 1959. With its popularity, “The Battle of New Orleans” had dominated the teenagers of 1950’s and 1960’s and rock and roll music.
“When it’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s 40 Below)”
The song was Horton’s first No.1 hit on the country charts and the most successful single. It spent a total of 23 weeks on the country charts.
Awards and Recognitions…
Johny Horton bagged some of the highest awards for his arts and works. His song “The Battle of New Orleans” won as “Best Country and Western Recording” at Grammys in 1960 and another as “Grammy Hall of Fame Award”. In 2001, the track was ranked No. 333 of the Recording Industry Association of America’s “Songs of the Century”.
Furthermore, Horton is a member of Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
On the night of November 4, 1960, Horton and two other members of his band Tommy Tomlinson and Tillman Franks, were traveling from Austin, Texas to Shreveport when they collided with a truck on a bridge near Milano in Milam County, Texas. Due to a severe injury, Horton died while on his way to the hospital. The other members had serious injuries.
Johny Horton is one of the most memorable artists in the country music history. His legacy will definitely be instilled in the hearts and minds of all the people who were drawn to his unique and charming music.
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